• ethanol;
  • histopathological changes;
  • kidney;
  • metalloproteinase;
  • nitric oxide


Objectives  The effects of longterm ethanol consumption on the levels of nitric oxide (NO) and the expression of endothelial NO synthase (eNOS), inducible NO synthase (iNOS) and metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) were studied in rat kidney.

Methods  Male Wistar rats were treated with 20% ethanol (v/v) for 6 weeks. Nitrite and nitrate generation was measured by chemiluminescence. Protein and mRNA levels of eNOS and iNOS were assessed by immunohistochemistry and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, respectively. MMP-2 activity was determined by gelatin zymography. Histopathological changes in kidneys and indices of renal function (creatinine and urea) and tissue injury (mitochondrial respiration) were also investigated.

Results  Chronic ethanol consumption did not alter malondialdehyde levels in the kidney. Ethanol consumption induced a significant increase in renal nitrite and nitrate levels. Treatment with ethanol increased mRNA expression of both eNOS and iNOS. Immunohistochemical assays showed increased immunostaining for eNOS and iNOS after treatment with ethanol. Kidneys from ethanol-treated rats showed increased activity of MMP-2. Histopathological investigation of kidneys from ethanol-treated animals revealed tubular necrosis. Indices of renal function and tissue injury were not altered in ethanol-treated rats.

Conclusions  Ethanol consumption increased renal metalloproteinase expression/activity, which was accompanied by histopathological changes in the kidney and elevated NO generation. Since iNOS-derived NO and MMPs contribute to progressive renal injury, the increased levels of NO and MMPs observed in ethanol-treated rats might contribute to progressive renal damage.